Posted by Scott Marsden on November 29, 2000
In Reply to: Carpet bagger posted by SW on November 28, 2000
: See southern US post-civil war history for references to political reconstruction. Carpet bags were often carried by these travelling persons who sought to capture influence over the crippled society.
Just to add a little more detail... In the post-US Civil War South, carpetbaggers were Northerners who moved to the South to take advantage of the unstable social, financial, and political climate. They were called "carpetbaggers" to imply that they were such poor, transient characters that they merely moved south carrying all their possessions in a carpet-bag. A carpet-bag, by the way, isn't a bag for carrying carpet, but a soft-sided suitcase or satchel made out of carpet.
Today, the phrase refers to someone who moves to a new location for opportunistic reasons.